Acts 16:16–40; Philippians 2:1–18
Paul commands believers to possess the attitude of strong determination. He confesses, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13–14).
At a time when many people in his place would be looking back in regret, wondering what life would have been like in a different profession, Paul repudiates the past and looks with confidence to the future. His strong determination kept him focused on the ultimate goal—pleasing Christ all the way to the goal, even in his chains. It’s the picture of a runner running for the tape at the end of the race, straining forward in strong determination. Paul said, “I’m not looking back. I’m stretching for the prize.” True grit on display.
No rusty Roman chains could deter Paul from reaching for the goal of pursuing the prize of Christ. He pressed on, determined to remain focused on his mission.
I was reading to Cynthia from Sports Illustrated about a ninety-year-old basketball scout that still does work for the Detroit Pistons. That’s right—the man is ninety years old! He still gets on a plane, checks those prospects out, and brings back a reliable report. I love it! He said he flew past sixty-two without even a thought of retirement. Strong determination.
I read somewhere, “We wonder at the anatomical perfection of a da Vinci painting. But we forget that Leonardo da Vinci on one occasion drew a thousand hands.” Leonardo possessed that same strong determination Paul modeled in Rome. Thomas Edison came up with the modern light bulb after a thousand failed attempts. By the man’s own admission, it was mainly strong determination that gave the incandescent light to the world, not an inventor’s creative genius.
But we’re not talking about college athletes or persistent, brilliant inventors. We’re talking about being a determined servant of Christ. There’s no easy route to spiritual maturity. It doesn’t happen overnight. Remember, it’s a grueling journey at times. So, don’t bother to publish a pamphlet on all the obstacles you face. Don’t become famous for complaining. The apostle says, “Forget the past; reach for the tape. Keep running.” Develop and maintain an attitude of strong determination.